7 Most Favorable Reviews in September 2022

  • October 4, 2022

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.

7 Most Favorable Reviews in September 2022

Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom by Andrew Nagorski (Simon & Schuster). Reviewed by Kitty Kelley. “Lights! Camera! Action! Andrew Nagorski’s Saving Freud ought to be coming to a theater near you. This nonfiction work crackles like a novel and sparks with the razzle-dazzle of a big-screen extravaganza: an unforgettable cast of characters (think ‘The Dirty Dozen’), spine-tingling suspense (‘The Day of the Jackal’), a death-defying savior (maybe ‘Mephisto’), and Nazis — the epitome of evil.”

The Last Karankawas: A Novel by Kimberly Garza (Henry Holt & Co.). Reviewed by Ellen Prentiss Campbell. “Meteorologists say Atlantic hurricane activity last month was unusually quiet. Though The Last Karankawas was published August 9th — was fated to be published, Magdalena might say — during this ominous lull in storm activity, it arrived in a season nonetheless marked by other disasters in Texas, including the massacre in Garza’s hometown, Uvalde. It’s fitting, then, that her novel offers such an immersive experience of a particular complex community which is both beautiful and dangerous — embodied by Galveston’s oleander trees, whose stunning blossoms are poisonous. The Last Karankawas reflects and speaks to our present destabilized moment with storm-level intensity.”

Under My Bed and Other Essays by Jody Keisner (University of Nebraska Press). Reviewed by Alice Stephens. “Each essay in Under My Bed is exquisitely structured and beautifully written, the personal substantiated by the factual, and every seeming diversion tying into the overarching theme. Although the author writes perceptively about the predicament of living while female, there were some issues that could have been more fully explored, such as a reflection on the fact that the threat she so feared came from within her own body instead of from the outside, and a much deeper contemplation of how being adopted may have contributed to her anxieties.”

Plain Air: Sketches from Winesburg, Indiana by Michael Martone (Baobab Press). Reviewed by Mark Gamin. “The danger with stories — sketches — like these (such as the one referencing Winesburg’s annual ‘Dental Floss Days’ festival) is that they can encroach on Lake Wobegon. But readers who used to grind their teeth at the faux folksiness of a certain public-radio curmudgeon need not fear. Martone writes with wit and intelligence (even slyly referencing Keats and Hemingway), and his town and its denizens are endearing.”

Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Reviewed by Bob Duffy. “Rundell reminds us that money matters for Donne were usually touch-and-go: He was never fully secure financially until the final decade of his life. He knocked around a good deal on his bumpy upward climb and achieved monetary success only on landing the deanship, a clerical posting that was top-of-the-heap in Jacobean London. His was a surprisingly protracted c.v. for the man Rundell ranks as ‘the finest love poet England has ever known’ and ‘one of the greatest innovators in the English language’ for his off-beat, inventive coinages. She is convincing regarding this latter characterization but perhaps over-the-top in her assessment of Donne’s rank as a love poet.”

Bridge to the Sun: The Secret Role of the Japanese Americans Who Fought in the Pacific in World War II by Bruce Henderson (Knopf). Reviewed by Eugene L. Meyer. “Through the stories of these men, Henderson chronicles the war in the Pacific. Though they fully prepared to fight, the men were not there for hand-to-hand combat. Instead, they played significant roles as supporting players. Since Japanese soldiers believed it more honorable to commit suicide than to surrender, the Japanese American soldiers spent more time translating captured documents than questioning captured prisoners. But their language skills yielded remarkable intelligence that saved American lives.”

Blood & Ink: The Scandalous Jazz Age Double Murder that Hooked America on True Crime by Joe Pompeo (William Morrow). Reviewed by Dean Jobb. “His research is exhaustive, his command of details complete, the narrative fast paced and captivating. The chance discovery of a trove of case records in the basement of a New Brunswick home in 2019 — thousands of pages of witness statements and grand jury transcripts — injects new material and fresh insights into his account. The result is first-rate historical true crime. Were the testimony of an erratic eyewitness and a tabloid’s sleuthing and exposés enough to convict? Don’t Google the answer. Immerse yourself in Blood & Ink and time-travel with Joe Pompeo back to the Jazz Age to find out.”

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